Lucas Shelton spent many years working in a night cleaning crew as part of a sheltered workshop.
He loves to cook, and he loves being around friendly people. When his former provider WITCO began transitioning from facility-based to community-based employment, it seemed like a natural fit to develop a job for Lucas at a family restaurant.
Mackey’s Steakhouse & Pub is a staple in Ontario, Ore. It's the place locals know they can go for good, filling food in an Irish pub environment.
Lucas works 12 to 20 hours per week in the mornings at Mackey’s. His job includes maintenance, custodial work and prep cook. He cleans the restaurant, including vacuuming and dish washing, and makes small repairs. He also is a prep cook, helping the lead prep cook with preparing sauces and prepping food for the first shift.
“I love it here,” Lucas said, smiling shyly. “I love the people, the atmosphere, and the food.”
After recommending the Guinness Burger off the menu to his visitors, Lucas says he prefers this work to what he was doing in the sheltered workshop.
“The pay is better,” he said. “I’ve always liked cooking and wanted to learn more about it.”
Mackey’s co-owner Angela Grove said the busy restaurant needed dependable help to make sure cooks and wait staff can get through the busy lunch rush.
“Consistency is what we needed, and Lucas brings that,” she said. “Otherwise people would be trying to find time to do these tasks, and that takes them away from the customers.”
Being a family business, Angela said Mackey’s is also interested in helping Lucas develop his interest in cooking. He works with the lead prep cook on baked potatoes, frying up bacon and getting all the sides ready for the first shift of the day. His job coaches with his current provider, RISE, also worked with Lucas to help get him trained on his duties.
“It’s a win-win really,” she said. “We get a consistent employee and the work we need done, and I think Lucas enjoys the work and being here.”
Lucas encouraged others who may be nervous about trying community employment to follow his lead and ask for help if needed.
“If you ask for help, I found people will help you if you need it,” Lucas said. “Don’t be nervous. It’s going to be fine and you may find a good job like I did.”
Lucas’s employment team includes: Dylan Burch and Christopher Thompson, job coaches with RISE; Andrea Wisnefsky, service coordinator with Malheur Community Developmental Disability Program; VR counselor Shauna Robinson; and job developer Ken Philips with WITCO.
View a slideshow of Lucas at work.